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Buhari urges striking doctors to return to work



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By Gistflash News

Sept 10, 2021

President Muhammadu Buhari Friday has called on health workers to return to their duty posts.

He also urged others contemplating strikes to opt for settlement of issues by negotiation, no matter how long it takes.

The president made the appeal when he hosted members of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) at the State House, Abuja, on Friday.

According to the president, the lives of citizens that can be lost or damaged when doctors withdraw services, are precious enough to be worth opting for peaceful resolution of differences.

Buhari said that all outstanding benefits owed medical doctors would be cleared after verifications, noting that embarking on industrial action at a critical health period for the country and citizens was not a good option.

He said: “Protecting our citizens is not to be left to government alone, but taken as a collective responsibility, in which especially medical professionals play a critical role.

“Let me speak directly to the striking doctors. Embarking on industrial action at this time when Nigerians need you most is not the best action to take, no matter the grievances.

“This Administration has a good track record of paying all debts owed to government workers, pensioners and contractors and we have even revisited debts left by past administrations, once due verification is done. Debts genuinely owed Health workers will be settled.

“I learnt that some of the 12 points demand in the ongoing strike were already addressed. Though the Review of a new Hazard Allowance has not been fully negotiated because of the sharp and deep division within the ranks of the striking doctors.’’

The president said the outstanding issue of an Establishment circular issued by the Head of Service, removing House officers, NYSC Doctors from scheme of service had an addendum circular from National Salaries and Wages Commission to clarify that they would continue to earn the wages attached to them on their present wage structure.

“I request that the agreement reached in the meetings of 20th and 21st August captured in the MOU which I have seen be religiously implemented,’’ he added.

Buhari revealed that budgetary allocations had been increased and a Health Sector Reform Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Vice President, had been inaugurated.

The committee will identify and address weaknesses in the Health System and align it with global best practices that raise public confidence.

“We are also supporting initiatives to expand health insurance coverage and bring more resources to health financing.

“We have many more challenges ahead and much more to do, for our large population.

“In this respect, it is important to remind you that, as senior medical personnel and representatives of one of the most respected professional groups in the world, your responsibility for the health and wellbeing of Nigerians are clear.

“It does not end only with the welfare of your members, but continues with a sense of responsibility for the entire country and its sociopolitical health and national stability,’’ he added.

He also noted that Nigeria’s source of revenue over many years was dwindling, with a rising population.

“The global economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic, and despite recent pleasing news of more than five per cent economic growth of Nigeria in the last quarter, we are still having fiscal challenges to deal with, like most other countries.

“The source of revenue that Nigeria has depended on for so long experienced global decline, our population is rising fast and the tension arising from both, is fuelling agitation among our youth.

“Organizations like the NMA could play a very useful moderating role in society,’’ he said.

The president commended the positive role the NMA had been playing, as the apex professional medical association in Nigeria, especially with regard to the ongoing industrial action.

“This is a befitting role for the NMA, as a mature organization, led by responsible members with long experience. I am proud also to learn of various feats that have been achieved in our hospitals,’’ he said.

He cited such feats to include the separation of conjoined twins and also the valiant efforts of health personnel in handling the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said this had earned them recognition at home and abroad, congratulating the NMA for the recent appointment of one of their members as Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization.

“We again warmly congratulate Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu for his elevation.’’

In his remarks, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the NMA had been playing a critical role in development of the health sector, particularly in tackling pandemics, participating in policy formulation and population health.

President of the NMA, Prof. Innocent Ujah, thanked the President for appointment of members into strategic positions in government, assent to the Medical Residency Act and immunization coverage.

Ujah said the association was concerned with the industrial action embarked on by doctors, and had been doing its best to alleviate the suffering of patients across the country, while appealing for an urgent resolution.

The NMA president thanked Buhari for takeoff grant for first Federal Universities of Health Sciences in Otukpo, Benue State;  Azare, Bauchi State and Ila Orangun, Osun State.

Ujah, however, suggested an appropriate funding module for the new institutions.

He assured the president of the continuous support of members of the association to improve health in the country.



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Kano State records 11,475 cholera cases, 329 deaths – Official



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By Gistflash News

Sept 22, 2021

Kano State has so far recorded no fewer than 11,475 suspected cholera cases from March to date with the death of 329 people.

The Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer (DSNO) of the state, Mr Sulaiman Iliyasu, disclosed this at a media sensitisation on COVID-19 pandemic and Cholera outbreak on Wednesday in Kano.

He said that the cases were reported across the 44 local government areas of the state.

Iliyasu said out of the number, 11,115 cases had fully recovered, while 329 people  had died.

He revealed that 31 cases were still receiving treatment from three local government areas of the state as of Sept. 21.

The officer said that Kano was second in the country with highest number of the cases.

According to him, Sumaila Local Government Area has the highest number of cases with more than 2,000 cases.

He said that Bichi and Gwarzo, were second and third in the prevalence, while Kunchi and Dala local governments had the least number of the cases.

“Kano State has the population of more than 15.3 million, the attack rate is 0.074 per cent,” he said.

Iliyasu said that the state government had distributed drugs to contain the spread of the disease.

He said the government had established cholera treatment centres, intensified social mobilisation, community awareness and chlorination of water points all as part of measures to check the disease.

He revealed that poor personal hygiene and environmental sanitation as well as taking unhygienic food and drinking contaminated water, were responsible for the outbreak.

On the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Director, Public Health and Disease Control, Dr Ashir Rajab, said that more than 98,000 samples had been taken for laboratory tests.

Rajab said that about 4,000 cases were confirmed positive, while 3,900 cases had been discharged and about 119 persons died as a result of the disease.

He revealed that the state had enough vaccines in all the 44 local government areas of the state.

Rajab urged the media to intensify efforts in enlightening people on the importance of COVID-19 vaccination and continue adhering to the experts’ guidelines and protocols.

In his contribution, Mr Ogu Enemaku of UNICEF urged the media to intensify partnership with the government to contain the diseases outbreak.

He also urged people to desist from the practice of defecation and ensure good personal hygiene and environmental sanitation.

Enemaku urged people to come out en masse to be immunised against COVID-19.



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FEC approves N836m augmentation for 38 COVID-19 oxygen plants



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By Gistflash News

Sept 22, 2021

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved N836million as augmentation for the establishment of oxygen production plants for COVID-19 pandemic intervention across the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the council had in June approved N5.615 billion to four major contractors for the emergency supply, installation and maintenance of the 38 oxygen plants in various parts of the country.

NAN reports that the approval in June followed the Presidential Steering Committee’s (PSC) announcement to increase oxygen reserve capacity in the event of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the council meeting, on behalf of the Minister of Health, said the approval of the upward review followed a memo presented by the minister of health to the council.

The meeting was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday in Abuja.

The minister said: “The Minister of Health also presented a memo seeking for an upward review for the emergency supply, installation and maintenance of the 38 oxygen plants all over the country.

“You will remember in June, the Federal Executive Council, actually approved the sum of N5.615 billion to four major contractors for the emergency supply, installation and maintenance of 38 oxygen plants in various parts of the country.

“Regrettably, the four companies also came back recently with the same complaints ranging from fluctuation in the foreign exchange and the scarcity of the material all over the world as a result of COVID-19.

“So, he presented a memo for augmentation in the sum of N836 million and this was also approved today.

Mohammed disclosed that the council also approved a revised estimate costs and extension of the contract of the consultants supervising the Bagwai Water Dam Irrigation project from an initial sum of N98 million to N302.8million.

“The Bagwai Water Dam Irrigation project in Bagwai Local Government Area of Kano State actually was commenced, the initial contract was actually awarded in year 2005.

“And due to several logistics problems, the project is still on and just recently the FEC actually approved an augmentation of the entire contract and that means also that the mandate of the consultant supervising the construction would also have to be reviewed.

“So, now the total cost for the consultancy is N302. 9 million.’’



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IHVN joins 5-year multi-country project to improve maternal, new born health



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By Gistflash News

Sept 19, 2021

The Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) has joined a multi -country research project to improve Maternal and Newborn health in conflict-affected countries, including Nigeria, according to  Dr. Emilia Iwu, Senior Technical Advisor, IHVN.

Iwu, who disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Sunday, in Abuja, added that the five-year project would focus its research on the day of birth and the first week of life, the timeframe with the highest number of Newborn deaths globally.

Iwu disclosed that the new partnership aimed at improving maternal and Newborn health in conflict-affected countries, through the creation of a multi-country research consortium.

“With funding provided by UK Aid, the $11.3 million contract will be led by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) alongside IHVN, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and its university-wide Centre for Humanitarian Health, the Somali Research and Development Institute, and Université Catholique de Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Ensuring quality access and learning for mothers and new borns in conflict-affected contexts — this contract is one of the largest research investments to date on the topic in humanitarian contexts and will work to identify and fill evidence gaps that could ultimately improve policies, programming, and outcomes for mothers and new borns,” she said.

“In 2019, alone, 2.4 million babies died in the first month of life. 75% of which occurred  in the first week.

“The consortium will conduct research in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, northeast Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan ; countries and regions where maternal and Newborn mortality rates ranked among the highest globally.

”In Nigeria, for example, 35 new born babies die for every 1,000 live births , a devastating statistic that is nearly ten times higher than the risk faced by new borns in high-income countries,” she noted.

Iwu added that in addition to delivering cutting-edge research, EQUAL would invest in opportunities for partners and key stakeholders, to share expertise and strengthen technical, research, and operational capacities.

She added that this would include dedicated training and mentorship for female researchers, as well as using the research findings to help inform national health policies and guidelines.

“In Nigeria, IHVN will collaborate with the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, the Government of Yobe State, the Faculty of Shehu Sule College of Nursing and Midwifery to conduct operations research on the quality of midwifery education and practices.

“Specifically, we will conduct a 5-year assessment of the recently implemented Community Midwifery program to examine the effectiveness these midwives have in addressing gaps in maternal and neonatal health within rural communities in Yobe State.

”Of particular interest are factors affecting the midwifery workforce, participation, retention, performance, and personal resilience, during periods of increased insecurity,” Iwu explained.

According to her, the need for this work had become even more apparent in the face of COVID-19, as mobility restrictions, fear of transmission, and limited resources continued to prevent women from accessing safe delivery and postpartum care.



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